Never before, in its long history, has Special Olympics B.C. had its own torch for its opening ceremonies.
Thanks to Greater Vernon Recreation Services, and a handful of local businesses, the specially designed torch will be on full display for the Special Olympics B.C. Winter Games Thursday at Kal Tire Place in Vernon (opening ceremonies start at 7:30 p.m.).
“The Games society no longer had a torch to use for the games, they would borrow torches from previous events, so they asked us if there was something we could do,” said Shayne Wright, programmer with Recreation Services. “I looked around in town, talked to Al (Machine and Welding) and they stepped up to the task.”
“They came to use, we put some ideas together and put it together in a couple to three weeks,” said Darryl Thomas, project manager at Al Machine and Welding, helped out on the project by Applewood Heating and Air Conditioning, Sunshine Autographics and Brian’s Heavy Equipment Painting.
The eight-foot-tall torch was built in three components: a mobile base, centre pillar and the cauldron at top. It’s portable and can be broken down into pieces and stored in a three-foot box, making it easy to take to the Games’ host city.
“The challenging part was getting the burner to work properly,” said Thomas. “Special thanks to John at Applewood Heating, he did a pretty good job. We wanted to make it simple and not complicated with burners, valves and lighters. He came up with an idea that worked pretty well so we went with it.”
Thomas said his company was happy to oblige with the request.
“Absolutely. It doesn’t have a date or city attached so it can go wherever it needs to go, and it will be a nice legacy for the Games,” he said.
Vernon snowshoer Justin Chippendale, one of eight Vernon athletes competing in the Games in their hometown, will be the torchbearer for the opening ceremonies, joined by a member of the Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP detachment.